What works for schools when teachers and researchers collaborate?

Teachers and scientific researchers who work together in practice-based research are considered to contribute significantly to professional and school development. That is why the Netherlands Initiative for Education Research (NRO) finances this type of collaboration. This not only guarantees scientific quality, but also the practical relevance of the educational research.

In 2016, three Dutch university-primary school partnerships started to collaborate on research involving questions directly derived from educational practice, such as giftedness and citizenship. Indeed, the NRO grant enabled these long-term partnerships to extend and develop their activities.

During a midterm meeting last September in a primary school in Amsterdam the partnerships presented themselves. It is too early to say that this teacher – researcher collaboration really contributes effectively to school development, but it turned out that there is a lot going on in the schools and universities concerned. Teachers are enthusiastic about doing research under the guidance of a scientific researcher. Researchers discover that practice based educational research really requires flexibility and creativity in the research design. Teacher and researchers meet regularly and start to speak the same language. However, this didn’t happen immediately. There was a lot of preparation time needed to reach this point.

In about a year, the partnerships will be evaluated externally, through interviews and questionnaires. Then we will know more about the added value of research collaboration in realising school development. Other partnerships in progress can benefit from these insights and find out what works for them.

Are you interested in the concept of a teacher–researcher collaboration? Do you want to share your knowledge about the pros and cons of these partnerships? Join us during two activities at the EAPRIL conference in Hämeenlinna:

  • When worlds combine: Teacher – researcher collaboration for practice based research in primary schools
    (NRO invited symposium, Session E2 – Thursday November 30, 11.30 – 13.00)
  • Debate about research impact on school development
    (Cloud 7 workshop, Wednesday November 29, 14:00 – 15:30)

Anje Ros
Fontys University of Applied Science

Linda Sontag
Netherlands Initiative for Education Research (NRO)

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